Subscribe

British space scientist Colin Pillinger hailed as 'a visionary and an inspirational leader'

Colin Pillinger, who championed the search for signs of life on Mars, passed away at his home in Cambridge, England. 

  • close
    Colin Pillinger, shown in this 2003 photo, captured the popular imagination with his failed attempt to land a probe on Mars
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

The British space scientist Colin Pillinger, best known for his failed attempt in 2003 to put a spacecraft called Beagle 2 on Mars, has died, fellow scientists said.

Pillinger, who championed the Beagle 2 project despite some mocking by the public, died at his home in Cambridge, in south-east England.

Martin Rees, Britain's Astronomer Royal, hailed Pillinger as one of the nation's leading planetary scientists.

"He was of course a character – an archetype eccentric professor," Rees said. "He was committed to space exploration and to its broader role in science education."

Beagle 2 was named after the ship Charles Darwin sailed in when he formulated his theory of evolution. It was built by British scientists for about 50 million pounds ($85 million).

The craft was taken to Mars aboard the European Space Agency's orbiter Mars Express, but then disappeared without trace after being dropped off to make its landing.

Colleagues and friends praised his zeal and planetary curiosity.

"Colin was a visionary and an inspirational leader, and had a wonderfully involving interaction with the media," said Andrew Coates, the head of planetary science group at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory at the University College London. "He really raised our hopes of actually going to Mars in 2003 to look for past or present life."

(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Larry King)

Share this story:
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK